A cancer survivor's tale

By: 
June 03, 2002

Mort Levy is living proof of the possibilities that can come from breakthrough medical technology. The emphasis is on the word "living." Mr. Levy, a 75-year-old New York native who moved to California several years ago, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level was 13 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter). Normal for his age for this measure of prostate-produced protein in his blood would have been about 6.5 ng/ml. There could have been several benign reasons for that elevated PSA, but further testing confirmed that cancer was the prime cause.

After hearing all the options for treatment, Mr. Levy chose to go with the relatively new technology of Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). It's technology that uses computer-generated images to plan and deliver high doses of radiation directly to cancer cells more precisely than traditional radiotherapy. Mr. Levy commuted from his home in southern California to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York for 48 treatments with a Varian Medical Systems SmartBeam IMRT. The results: no side effects, and, more importantly, no cancer. His current PSA level is One. Here's what he told Design News about his experience:

"There were lots of options for treatment, from pellets to surgery. Each specialist said his option was the best. I chose IMRT after doing some research and talking to other patients. It was the least invasive, which was important to me. There are too many nerves near the prostate that can be disturbed in surgery.

"Once I decided on the procedure, the medical staff made a cast of my body to help in aligning the IMRT doses. The procedure itself took about 20 minutes each time. I would lie flat on the table, and the equipment, which looked like a big two-foot round hood, would circle around my body, delivering shots at five different angles. I didn't have to take any liquids first and I felt no claustrophobia like you can in an MRI machine. Every week, they asked me about side effects. I had none. And now, the cancer is gone."

Can there be a better testimonial for the value of medical technology?

pteague@cahners.com

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